Cypress Hill - Stoned Raiders

If Afroman is reason enough as to why smokers should be shot on sight then Cypress Hill make us think twice. As famous for their smoking habits as they are for their music the hill have just gone and released their best album of their career. Following on from last years "Live At The Fillmore" album and taking tips from Rage Against The Machine (who B-Real was rumoured to be joining earlier in the year) the guys mix up rock, funk and a large slice of hip-hop and make one of the truly great hip-hop albums of the year not to be produced by Dr Dre. When Nu-metal is written of as a bigger mistake than Britpop and Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park are seen as credible as the Tweenies there will be few acts that survive the national culling. It would be foolish and naive to call Cypress Hill nu-metal or even rock rap crossover as these guys have been hitting the decks for years but "Stoned Raiders" pushes the boundaries of traditional hip-hop to such an extent that it almost pushes "Insane" into submission.

Taking their own route round hip-hop central they use the language of hip hop and fuse with their own twisted mindset. So while we may get the 'bitch ass niggers' and ho's on "Southland Killers" so typical of hip-hop they'll fuse it with the "getting wasted like Jerry from the Grateful Dead" on "Amplified". Musically diving in and out of Led Zep guitar work and piano motifs straight of out Dre's finest hour it makes a change to see a hip-hop act who rely on innovation rather than a winning formula. Its not the fact that we haven't heard it before its the fact that we haven't heard it on the space of one album before.

"Stoned Raiders" is one of the best hip-hop albums you can buy this year and a perfect introduction for the kids. Like a greatest hits of hip-hop set it takes its direction from the likes of Dre & Snoop Dog ("Lowrider", "Life") all the way through to RATM ("Catastrophe") and the sounds of the nu-metal acts on "Trouble". From So Solid Crew and Mark B & Blade in the Uk to Cypress Hill, Wu Tang and Princess Superstar in the US it looks like next year can only get better and better for those getting bored of middle class white kids with guitars.

Alex McCann